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IN SEARCH OF ROOTS Lekh Tandon's serial "Aisa Des Hai Mera" begins from London and tracks down to Chandigarh
IN SEARCH OF ROOTS Lekh Tandon's serial "Aisa Des Hai Mera" begins from London and tracks down to Chandigarh

Veteran director Lekh Tandon is wrapping up his last serial. SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY speaks to the man who is also putting together his autobiography

Now the thrust seems to be on camera angles and other techniques LEKH TANDON Obviously, your enthusiasm is high when you meet a veteran like Lekh Tandon, the man who forced our mom and aunt to shed a tear many an autumn ago. In the history of tele-serials in India, Tandon no doubt holds one of the pioneering positions. Besides his memorable movies and long association with the Kapoors, his serials Phir Wahi Talaash, Dil Dariya, Fauji, Daraar and Circus, etc. made for Doordarshan during those early TV days are still remembered by viewers with praise. Those were gentler days of abiding charm, subtle messages. By the way, to him also goes the credit of launching Shah Rukh Khan's career.

Now on Sony

Now a man of 67 summers, Tandon is back doing what he has always been remembered for: Making serials with a touch of drama, leaving that lingering feeling of togetherness. His soap, Aisa Des Hai Mera is currently running on Sony TV every Monday to Thursday at 9 p.m. So as expected, you want him to relate his experience this time vis-à-vis the '80s. The box has moved so far away from those days."That is true. When we started, our main idea was to tell a good story, but now the thrust seems to be on camera angles and other techniques. Also, the cost of making a serial has gone very high. The studios are expensive, the actors demand a lot of money and then, you have to fall in line with the channel guidelines," says Tandon. "It is not all that creative an experience any more. Perhaps this is the last time I am making a serial," he adds.So, has this experience of serial-direction for a private channel been bitter?

No complaints

"No, I am not complaining. It is the way of things now. Creativity has to be sacrificed at the altar of commercial benefits most times," he says. Does one need to be reminded of a certain K-factor and the inevitable rebirth of many a character following the TRP ratings?Tandon, who began his television foray with Doordarshan, is even more tart about it: "Doordarshan with such a reach across the country is the right medium to make a good tele-serial, but who would risk endless pushing and shoving at this age? It is high time they revamped the medium. It was so effective once. It is a big loss for creative people," he comments. Not very amused at the tele-soaps doing the rounds these days, the veteran, well known for movies like Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaiye, Agar Tum Na Hote, Amrapali, Jahan Piya Mile and Professor etc., feels serials have to have a sense of social responsibility. And here we have many directors talking of sheer entertainment, the mobile phone with its sms system being the vehicle for messages!"I admit that my main aim as a serial director and a serial writer is to entertain the viewers, but at the same time I should not forget my responsibility towards the society. I have to have a correct base to justify my serial," he reasons. In Aisa Des Hai Mera, Tandon has written and directed a yarn that begins at London and tracks down to Chandigarh. It is the tale of a girl, Rusty, in search of her roots, and features veteran actors like Kanwaljeet, Ranjit, Beena Pradeep and others.

Autobiography

"This is going to be my last shot at TV. Next I plan to write my autobiography. It will be a little different in the sense that it will have my experience of meeting many great people starting from Prithviraj Kapoor. The book will be called, 'Kahan Gaye Woh Log'," he shares. By the way, when Tandon landed up in Mumbai in the '30s, he lodged with Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor took him around many studios. This finally made Tandon a director and storywriter.Also, Tandon says he is writing a film story on his dog, which had laid its life down for him many years ago. Now, if the next generation could repay the debt, if not in full at least in part?

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